Willy James is your friendly neighborhood filmmaker, a storyteller who got started by making Pittsburgh culture-focused documentaries and vlogs. Many of his videos feature life in Northside, the neighborhood he calls home.
“I got into creating videos by being curious about the community around me and trying my best to learn about all the great culture Pittsburgh has to offer. One of my favorite activities is connecting with others and I think creating videos has served me well, providing opportunities to work on projects around the city and beyond.”
Currently, James is working on the Pittsburgh Sleep podcast, where listeners can fall asleep to the sounds of the city. “It's like people watching, but for your ears,” James explains. His goal is to expand an auditory experience, to “help to facilitate more events around the city where people learn about mindfulness meditation, how to get a restful sleep, and maybe even learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy.” He’s open to collaborators and partners and encourages anyone interested to reach out through the Pittsburgh Sleep website.
When he’s not creating, in a pre-quarantined world, you could find Willy James in the Strip District or breaking a sweat at 3rd Ave. Boxing or StoutPGH.
With nearly 50 members, Alumni Theater Company gives an artistic voice to young Black artists in the Pittsburgh area.
"Our work allows them to identify their personal message and prepares them to articulate it to an audience in an engaging and authentic way," explains Hallie Donner, executive director of ATC.
With more than 60 productions under its belt, Hallie tells us what to expect during the theater company's thirteenth season, which is kicking off with "Dangerously in Love" by ATC's Teen Ensemble.
Tuhin Das comes from Barisal, a city in south-central Bangladesh, where writers are currently being persecuted under the Information and Technology Communication Law. As such, his life has been deeply impacted by groups who limit freedom of expression. Carnegie Mellon University invited him to Pittsburgh as a visiting scholar, and in 2016, City of Asylum invited him to join their writer sanctuary program.
Today, Tuhin has been in Pittsburgh for nearly four years as an ICORN writer-in-residence at City of Asylum. He remains a lover of his nation’s literary culture and continues to write poetry books – eight total – in his native language. In 2019, Tuhin received an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to assist with fees to translate his short stories, essays, and children’s stories from Bengali to English. He also serves on Thrive Advisory, the young professionals’ board of Literacy Pittsburgh.
Being “considered as a local artist” made him especially at home. We’re happy to have him our community.
Many of us can attribute our connections to the arts to one particular teacher or role model, often from our childhood. Unfortunately, arts education funding continues to be one of the first line-items to be cut from budgets nationwide. In fact, two-thirds of public school teachers feel the arts are getting crowded out of the school curriculum, according to Americans for the Arts.
That’s why Pittsburgh’s Arts Education Collaborative (AEC) focuses its work on supporting educators in the region to strengthen leadership, curriculum development, student assessment, community partnerships, program evaluation, and most recently, culturally responsive practices.
Jaime Kasper, former AEC associate director and director of programs. Photo by Nico Segall Tobon.
Must audio and video persistently be bound together for a videographer and filmmaker? Valery Lyman thinks not, and challenges the connections between these two elements in her latest work, “Breaking Ground,” featured August 22-24 at Carrie Blast Furnaces.
When you imagine going to the theatre, you often picture an auditorium with a single stage, seating, and maybe a balcony. The set and performance is created to fit the theater’s space. Quantum Theatre challenges this notion by bringing its productions to non-traditional spaces, expanding the audiences’ sensory experiences beyond the typical stage.
By day, you’ll find Saige Baxter at the Mobile Sculpture Workshop at Propel Schools where she serves as a welding mentor for Pittsburgh youth. The outreach program of the Industrial Arts Center gives the community an opportunity to design and complete public art while learning proper welding techniques. However, Baxter’s days are entrenched with wielding fire, melting metals and learning about communities.
The Pittsburgh native attended Seton Hill University, where she originally studied painting. After taking a sculpture class, her career quickly shifted paths. Since then, Baxter has worked diligently in the metal arts and created several site-specific outdoor sculptures. Her focus has been on creating public outdoor art. She’s now shifting to creating indoor structures.
Baxter was also named The Emerging Artist of The Year by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Media in February 2019. You can look forwarding to seeing Baxter’s work in a solo exhibition at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts alongside Dee Briggs, The Established Artist of the Year.
Saige Baxter, photo by Murphy Moshetta
When Arcade Comedy Theater first opened its doors in 2013, it hosted an intimate 75-seat theater. Only a year later, it was rated the Best Comedy Venue by Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best of the Burgh. Today, Arcade Comedy Theater has more than 1,000 shows under its belt, and has welcomed more than 50,000 visitors to the Cultural District.
Abby Fudor, cofounder and managing artistic director at the Arcade, helps her team roll out a menu of high-quality comedic performances each week. You can see Abby at the Arcade on stage as a member of the improv team Warp Zone, co-producer and host of the live game show You’re the Next Contestant, or directing the Arcade’s kid-friendly comedy show Penny Arcade.
Alia Musica is shining a light on new music in Pittsburgh, whether that’s highlighting modern composers or rethinking major 20th and 21st century figures. The organization was first created in 2006 by local composers looking for a place to showcase their music and collaborate with other Pittsburgh-based musicians.
Translating as “another music,” Alia Musica continues to feature unexpected ensembles balancing a grassroots component with a commitment to artistic quality. Co-founder and Artistic Director Federico Garcia-De Castro says that their work resonates “with audiences who expect the unexpected in our performances.”
Garcia-De Castro moved to the U.S. in 2001 from Colombia with his goals set to pursue a degree in music composition. Since then, he has performed in ten countries, most recently in Australia, Austria, and Italy. He was featured composer at the 2015 MusicArte Festival in Panama and the 2014 Thailand International Composition Festival, among others.
For Pittsburgh musician and classically trained vocalist Lyn Starr, inspiration comes from underground musicians, especially those that display authenticity in their music.
Lyn received $20,000 from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s Lift Grant earlier this year. Funding will allow Starr to record "Universe 25," a conceptual rap EP based on the research of John B. Calhoun, American ethologist and behavioral researcher, investigating how living in utopia changes behavior.